Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Losing a loved one

Unfortunately, we've had a very eventful month here--Brian's father, Gabby's Grandpa Romo passed away on March 1. 

I haven't written at all about Carl and his health because, frankly, I felt like it wasn't my business.  I only knew him for a short period of time (we met around Christmas 2007), and I always felt it was his family's place to advertise what was happening, not mine.  Now however, I feel like I should put the whole story down.  Carl was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 2 years ago, but even before that, we all knew things weren't quite right with his memory.  Even me, a relative outsider, realized that his lapses in memory were more than just those acquired in old age.  He would ask me every time I saw him what I did and where I lived--clearly not remembering that we had met before.  Before he was on medication, there were times when I know he didn't know who Brian or Jennifer (Brian's sister) were--sometimes he thought Brian was a nice man who came to visit, other times he thought Brian was his brother (to be fair, Brian does resemble his uncle quite a bit).  He could never remember that Gabby was a girl, persisting on calling her "he" even when she was dressed in all pink, although I think that stemmed from thinking Brian was his brother, since Brian's uncle had 2 boys.  Once he was diagnosed and got on a medication schedule that worked, things got much better.  He would still get "stuck in time" (a phrase used when people think they are living in a past time) and talk about work he was doing and how his bosses would be really upset when they learned he was retired, but for the most part he could follow a conversation and seemed able to recognize his wife and children as well as other important people in his life. 

We figured he would persist like this, slowly losing his memory and eventually having to be put in a nursing home for another 10 years or so.  Then in mid-February he caught the flu and stopped eating.  No big deal--I don't eat much when I'm sick either.  However, when he got over the flu, he didn't start eating again.  Their regular doctor was out of town, so Anne took him to the back-up doctor who ran a battery of tests, and basically told her that there was nothing wrong with him and that he would eat when he wanted to eat.  Fast forward a week later and he still wasn't eating (they figured he was getting maybe 200-300 calories/day).  He then collapsed, and the regular doctor told Anne to get him to the ER.  There they found that he had pneumonia, and since he was so malnourished treating it probably would not work.  Anne, Jennifer and Brian decided to admit him to hospice where he stayed for 2 days before passing away. 

This has understandably been a really rough time for Brian and his family.  They decided not to do a funeral right away (Carl's brother was visiting family with his wife and Anne's brother was recovering from back surgery and couldn't fly), but to do a memorial service instead, which will be this upcoming weekend.  We're all very saddened by the loss of a great husband, father, grandfather, and friend.